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[ASL Tutorials]

Last updated January 25, 2005


Regular Type

adobe::array_t is a model of the Regular concept. Value semantics allow for it to be used like a built-in type:
void foo(adobe::array_t param) // makes a copy of the array_t
    std::cout << param[0].get<std::string>();

int main(/*...*/)
    adobe::array_t my_array;

    /* add elements of type adobe::value_t to my_array */


    return 0;

Copy On Write

adobe::array_t is a copy-on-write container, which means that the container (and all its contents) are duplicated only when the array is modified. This makes for very fast copies of adobe::array_t, but can make writing to one a slow process. Therefore adobe::array_t is to be used when there is a lot of copying but little writing into the container. The copy-on-write semantics are governed by a reference counter, so if there is only one adobe::array_t referring to a given internal instance, then the copy is not made when the write is performed. Writing to these containers is very explicit; see the below section on Storage for more information.

Random Access

Every element in an adobe::array_t can be accessed in constant time. There are also const_iterator classes that allow for random-access iteration of the class. There is no iterator class that allows for writing, however, due to the nature of the copy-on-write semantics. Writing to an adobe::array_t is further explained in the Usage section.

adobe::value_t Elements

adobe::array_t stores elements of type adobe::value_t. Because of the features of adobe::value_t, this means that an adobe::array_t can store any data type that models the Regular concept. These types are allowed to differ between elements in the adobe::array_t.


A key point to remember is an adobe::array_t is essentially a specialized vector. Consequently just about anything you can do with a vector you can do with an adobe::array_t. The reasons you would want to use an adobe::array_t over a std::vector<adobe::value_t> is primarily because of the copy-on-write semantics, which allow for optimized copying and passing of adobe::array_t as a function parameter.


One initializes an adobe::array_t in one of several ways:
// Method 1: Default Construction
adobe::array_t my_first_array;

// Method 2: Copy Construction
adobe::array_t my_second_array(my_first_array);

// Method 3: Initialization with elements
std::vector<int> vec;
// ... fill in vec with elements
adobe::array_t my_third_array(vec.begin(), vec.end());

// Method 4: Initialization with a default element
my_regular_type my_regular_type_value(/*...*/);
int number_of_elements(5);
adobe::array_t my_third_array(number_of_elements, adobe::value_t(my_regular_type_value));


Setting a value in an array can only be done with an adobe::array_t::write_reference. The write_reference gives the adobe::array_t the ability to manage its copy on write semantics. There are a number of member functions inside adobe::array_t that manage the write_reference automatically for you. The only instance where you need to explicitly obtain a write_reference is when using operator []. Here are examples of setting values where the write_references is automatically handled for you:
adobe::array_t my_array;
my_array.push_back(adobe::value_t("Hello, world!"));
my_array.set(2, adobe::value_t(3.141526)); // sets my_array[2]
Once an element exists in the array, it can be directly modified with a write_reference, obtained with adobe::array_t::write():
my_array.write()[0] = adobe::value_t(std::string("This is a new value!"));
In any case, when an adobe::array_t is modified the possibility of a copy arising from the assignment is likely. See the above Copy On Write description for more information on these semantics.


Getting values out of an adobe::array_t is easier than putting them in, because there is no "read_reference": you merely index into the adobe::array_t to access the values. The only thing to remember is that the data stored is wrapped in an adobe::value_t, so first must be extracted out of there before it can be used:
// Singleton element retrieval

adobe::array_t my_array;
// ... fill my_array with elements
std::string my_string_value(my_array[2].get<std::string>());

// Iterative retrieval of elements

adobe::array_t::const_iterator first(my_array.begin());
adobe::array_t::const_iterator last(my_array.end());

for (; first != last; ++first)
    if (first->type() == typeid(std::string))
        std::cout << "Found a string: " << first->get<std::string>() << std::endl;
    else if (first->type() == typeid(double))
        std::cout << "Found a number: " << first->get<double>() << std::endl;
        std::cout << "I have no idea what we've found!" << std::endl;

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